Scams in the City

Al­though some In­done­sian trans­ves­tites are in­volved in mi­nor scams, much greater evil comes from big­ots who in­cite in­tol­er­ance by preach­ing that cross-dress­ing is a threat to the na­tion.

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS - BY KENNE TH YE­UNG Ken­neth Ye­ung is a Jakarta-based editor

Trans­gres­sions of Tol­er­ance

Male transvestism, which has long been a part of In­done­sian cul­ture, in­volves men putting on women's clothes and adopt­ing fe­male man­ner­isms. Few of the coun­try's trans­ves­tites get their tes­ti­cles cut off and their pe­nis spliced and in­verted, as gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery is costly and not a tra­di­tion, al­though many get sil­i­cone breast im­plants.

Some In­done­sians be­lieve ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is a dan­ger­ous dis­ease that can in­fect school chil­dren. While we shouldn't be forc­ing same-sex re­la­tions down any­one's throats, nei­ther should we be alarmed by pri­vate acts be­tween con­sent­ing adults.

Lo­cal news­pa­pers revel in re­port­ing scams per­pe­trated by trans­ves­tites, who are known lo­cally as waria – a com­bi­na­tion of wanita (woman) and pria (man). But cross- dressers are more likely to be the vic­tims of crimes.

In late De­cem­ber, Suhendi (31) alias Vanesa, who worked at a beauty sa­lon in the West Java town of Pur­wakarta, was al­most killed by a take-home cus­tomer named Andi Ramd­hani (27). The two had met for sex at Suhendi's rented room, hav­ing agreed on a price of Rp. 50,000. But when Andi was fin­ished, he paid only Rp.20,000. Suhendi de­manded Andi's ID card and mo­tor­cy­cle reg­is­tra­tion card, pend­ing pay­ment of the re­main­ing amount. Andi flew into rage and slashed Suhendi's head and body with a ma­chete. He was de­tained by lo­cal res­i­dents and handed over to po­lice.

A com­monly re­ported ‘scam' is that waria, pos­ing as beau­ti­ful women on­line, trick straight male phi­lan­der­ers into mak­ing ad­vance pay­ments for sex. Twit­ter and Face­book are rife with In­done­sians sell­ing sex­ual ser­vices, of­ten pro­moted through lewd pho­tos. Some of the ‘women' seem to be men, while many of the ac­counts ap­pear to be fake, us­ing pho­tos of mod­els or from adult web­sites. There is a ded­i­cated Twit­ter ac­count of com­plaints from men who trans­ferred money to pros­ti­tutes, only to find the woman never turned up or turned out to be a man.

Some peo­ple think trans­ves­tites are syn­ony­mous with skimpy out­fits and over­the-top camp voices, but that's not al­ways the case. Af­ter all, it's eas­ier to fool some men if they think you re­ally are fe­male.

In the North Su­ma­tra cap­i­tal of Medan, a man named Jamot Tu­lus Yopi Si­hite dressed as a re­spectable Mus­lim woman and gave him­self the shorter name of Agatha Syah­fitri. Don­ning a head­scarf for his pro­file pic­ture, Jamot tar­geted men through LINE, a pop­u­lar so­cial mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tion. A cou­ple of months ago, he snared a man named Teguh Pu­tra (25). Af­ter chat­ting on­line for a few weeks, they be­gan dat­ing. Jamot wore the head­scarf and a longsleeved shirt and long skirt for their meet­ings. On Jan­uary 22, they were on a date at Sun Plaza, when ‘Agatha' asked Teguh to drive to Cen­ter Point mall so they could meet her par­ents. Upon ar­rival, Agatha bor­rowed Teguh's iPhone 6 on the pre­text of call­ing and lo­cat­ing the par­ents. Teguh waited in his car for a few hours, but Agatha never re­turned. He even­tu­ally tried call­ing his num­ber from an­other phone and dis­cov­ered it was no longer ac­tive. Sus­pect­ing his girl­friend may be a thief, he went to the po­lice.

The fol­low­ing day, po­lice ar­rested Jamot, still dis­guised as a woman, at the same mall. He had al­ready sold the stolen phone. Teguh was shocked to learn Agatha was ac­tu­ally a man. Po­lice said Jamot had com­mit­ted sim­i­lar crimes. Of­fi­cers seized a bra, purse, head­scarf and other “fe­male ac­ces­sories” as ev­i­dence.


In the Cen­tral Kal­i­man­tan town of Muara Teweh, a trans­ves­tite us­ing the name Jen Ah­mad Les­tari be­friended men on Face­book. Last year, she caught the at­ten­tion of a min­ing en­gi­neer named Rangga, who fell in love and agreed to her sug­ges­tion of mar­riage. He also trans­ferred Rp.10 mil­lion to her bank ac­count, but then be­came sus­pi­cious when his fi­ancée kept mak­ing ex­cuses not to meet.

Rangga even­tu­ally re­ported the mat­ter to po­lice and Jen was ar­rested at a beauty sa­lon. He was soon re­leased and is now back on Face­book, us­ing a slightly dif­fer­ent name.


Pros­ti­tutes of all sex­ual per­sua­sions have been known to rob their clients, es­pe­cially for­eign tourists. On the re­sort is­land of Bali last year, a waria named Eka (31) ap­proached a drunk 25-year- old Swedish tourist, canoo­dled with him and later man­aged to re­move his gold neck­lace and his money.

The Swede com­plained to po­lice, who lo­cated and ar­rested the thief out­side Hard Rock Ho­tel. Eka said he stole to pay for his food, rent and other liv­ing ex­penses. He de­nied he was plan­ning to have breast aug­men­ta­tion surgery.

Bait & Switch

In the East Java cap­i­tal of Surabaya, a man named Wawan paid a trans­ves­tite for sex, only to then re­port the sex worker to po­lice for ex­tor­tion.

Wawan had ini­tially booked a ses­sion of sex with a fe­male pros­ti­tute named Fi­tria (28). Upon ar­rival at Ho­tel Su­lawesi- Gorontalo on Jan­uary 23, he went to Room 514 and dis­cov­ered that Fi­tria had brought along four trans­ves­tites, who were hid­ing in the bath­room. Rather than leave, Wawan had sex with one of the men, Ah­mad Donny alias Yustika (23).

Af­ter he fin­ished, Wawan paid Rp. 300,000 but the trans­ves­tites de­manded Rp. 500,000. They took some of his pos­ses­sions as col­lat­eral and told him to find an ATM and come back with the rest of the money. In­stead, Wawan went to po­lice and com­plained he had been tricked, forced to have sex and ex­torted.

Po­lice went to the ho­tel room, where they found Fi­tria and the four men al­legedly smok­ing crys­tal metham­phetamine. Donny de­nied com­mit­ting any ex­tor­tion or theft. He said the higher tar­iff was charged be­cause Wawan had “played rough”. Po­lice said the five would not be charged with ex­tor­tion, but they would face nar­cotics of­fenses car­ry­ing a max­i­mum penalty of 12 years in jail.

‘Dan­ger­ous Tele­tub­bies Virus’

Worst of all is the vir­u­lent ha­tred di­rected to­ward trans­ves­tites by el­e­ments of main­stream so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing some religious lead­ers and ed­u­ca­tors.

The Is­lam- ori­ented news por­tal hi­day­at­ul­ last week car­ried a ho­mo­pho­bic screed head­lined “Chil­dren and the Dan­ger­ous Tele­tub­bies Virus”. Writ­ten by a lec­turer in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the ar­ti­cle starts out prais­ing the Repub­lika daily news­pa­per for warn­ing of dan­ger­ous sex­ual dis­or­ders that can be trans­mit­ted to chil­dren. It then notes that other ma­jor re­li­gions have also voiced hos­til­ity against “neo-sodomists”, be­fore claim­ing that a Bri­tish tele­vi­sion show, Tele­tub­bies (which orig­i­nally aired over 1997–2001), is a ma­li­cious virus that must be fought be­cause it can lure chil­dren into en­gag­ing in sex­ual de­vi­a­tion when they be­come teens or adults.

The worst part of this non­sense states: “Ac­tu­ally, Repub­lika is not the first mass me­dia to be tar­geted by of­fense from peo­ple with sex­ual dis­or­ders. Nearly two decades ago, Time also an­gered the US neosodomists. The rea­son, its Oc­to­ber 12, 1998 is­sue ... re­ported the re­sults of its anal­y­sis that there is pro­pa­ganda to nor­mal­ize de­viant sex, es­pe­cially ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity to pre-school chil­dren in the TV se­ries Tele­tub­bies.”

Time mag­a­zine's is­sue of that date men­tions no such thing. There was in June 2001 a Time ar­ti­cle on the Tele­tub­bies, but the only sex men­tioned in­volved the gi­ant rab­bits on the set. The same mag­a­zine also car­ried an ar­ti­cle head­lined “Trans Across Amer­ica”, which con­tained the line: “Even Tele­tub­bies, a show for tod­dlers, fea­tures Tinky Winky, a boy who car­ries a red pa­tent-leather purse.” That's all.

Rather than in­ter­fer­ing in peo­ple's pri­vate lives and try­ing to in­cite ha­tred and in­tol­er­ance, so- called ed­u­ca­tors would be do­ing the coun­try greater ser­vice by preach­ing against big­otry, cor­rup­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion.

Jamot Tu­lus Yopi Si­hite tar­geted men through LINE, a pop­u­lar so­cial mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tion.

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